Saturday, December 27, 2014

Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane -- NOT RECOMMENDED

Lane, Lindsey Evidence of Things Not Seen, 240 pgs. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR), 2014. $17.99. Language: R (100+ swears, 34 'f'); Violence: R; Mature content: R.

High school junior Tommy Smythe has disappeared, and even though there's no proof of what happened to him, it doesn't stop everyone from speculating. Told in a series of loosely-connected vignettes by and about characters who either interacted with Tommy or found some of the stuff he left behind, this book explores what might have happened to him...and what might not have.

I was excited to read this story because the premise -- and, let's face it, the cover -- are amazing. However, I only made it halfway through before a scene with a thirteen-year-old's mother getting her drunk before prostituting her out to an old man literally nauseated me. This was after scenes either alluding to or featuring graphic sexual content, incest, rape, murder, and child abuse -- to name a few. While mature content rarely bothers me in books, in this case it seemed gratuitous and pointless, as these horrible things were brought up but never resolved. Just, Bam! Here's this person's awful, awful life! Now it's time to move on to the next character, who also has a terrible life! Perhaps the issues were in there for the shock value? To add some edge? If so, this treatment cheapened some important subjects that surely deserved more reflection and page space than these were given.

Also, while I enjoyed some of the voices, it was difficult not to skim the various characters' monologues about Tommy because it was so much telling about about a character who never actually appears on the page, but very little showing. Also difficult to connect with so many different characters who appear for only a few pages and then disappear again the moment we begin to care about them. And because so few of the vignettes even seemed to relate to each other or to the main plot line, so it was hard to feel as if the story were really progressing in any way. All in all, I simply could not justify continuing past the halfway point when there are so many other books out there to read.

HS -- NOT RECOMMENDED. Reviewer: Caryn

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